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Tuesday Travels: Umi Shoes {Review}

Welcome to Tuesday Travels, a regular series at Traveling with Baby featuring ideas for local day trips and  travel tips for families with kids-in-tow.  You’ll also find get-up-and-go related product reviews and giveaways.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.

Calvin’s Umi Shoes

At 28 months of age, Calvin’s tested a fair share of baby and toddler shoes from an assortment of brands.  From an experienced shoe-testing mama, what I like most about Umi is their commitment to the environment by using recycled packaging, and the non-toxic materials used in the manufacturing process–two things that are mighty high on my list.  Another plus is their commitment to safety and quality by running each pair of shoes through twenty quality checks.  That’s right…twenty!

Calvin’s tested the Major from Umi’s spring line of shoes for boys.  He likes the Major’s colorful brushed leather (amber-tan-chocolate) with contrasting royal blue top stitching. The Major style is also available in cognac/navy/stone–a great color combination for local UVA Cavaliers fans. Of his many shoes, Calvin often asks to wear his Umi’s.

As a mom, I like the durability of the shoes.  He can scrape them against gravel or kick a soccer ball, and they still look unscuffed and pretty darn new.  That type of top leather resiliency is unique in the world of soft and supple children shoes–especially when they go through the ringer from rough and tough boys.  If you’re looking for shoes that will last until your child goes through another growth spurt, Umi’s have the best durability construction that my son has tested in any shoes to date.

Is there room for improvement?  Sure, just like in any shoes, there’s always something that could be a little better.

As much as I love the quality of the hook and loop closure, the thickness of the straps makes it tough to loosen or open up the toe box enough to slide in a foot.  I really have a mild wrestling match with the shoe every time…so there’s little hope that my little guy will be able to slip them on by himself.  Also, as much as I love the durability of the shoe, there’s a trade-off with a more rigid rubber sole.  Compared to other toddler shoes, when my son wears his Umi’s, I can hear him plod around on the floor because of the stiff sole.  There’s less pliability for a gait pattern that encourages a child to roll the foot from heel strike through toe-off.  Instead, it’s more like the entire surface area of the sole strikes the pavement simultaneously.

Umi’s shoes for boys: overall

Overall, great, solid construction with a comfortable insole, and an upper that will endure the adventures of boyhood.  However, I’d love to see Umi develop a more flexible sole to assist young walkers with proper gait pattern instead of using a stiff, rubber material that actually inhibits proper gait development.

Lucien’s Umi Shoes

These were Lucien’s first shoes, so they have sentimental value. While he won’t take his first steps in these, and he will probably outgrow them before I can believe it, I will cherish these shoes from his baby days love after he has finished wearing them.

It took me a little while to even open the package – but once they came out of the box, I couldn’t help but put them on. I’ve taken him out and folks are exclaiming over his cute “sail” shoes in tan/chocolate.

I love these shoes for their soft materials and thoughtful details. When I first put them on I noticed little details like the tag in the back to give a helping hand to mom’s trying to gently maneuver the shoes onto little baby feet. Another thoughtful touch was the elastic that surrounds the top of the shoe around the ankle – allowing me to stretch open the mouth of the shoe to fit my son’s little, square baby feet in without pushing too hard. There is also a fair amount of flexibility in the sole as opposed to the toddler shoes which have to be more durable, and I found myself rubbing the tops of his shoes throughout the day because the leathers are so soft.

Another detail that I enjoyed, and this one purely fashionable, was the sole of the shoe – which has a playful design.

The moment I saw the appealing packaging and the size of his tiny shoes, I thought “what a perfect gift these would make for a new momma!” I’m looking forward to sharing Umi’s with other moms (and I know plenty) who will be having their children soon. I have many baby showers in my future and the cute packaging, complete with handle for easy carrying, invites me to drop a bow on top and take off to the party. While we both reviewed shoes from their boys collection, they have a lovely assortment of shoes for girls as well.      

Exclusive for Traveling with Baby readers
Readers of Traveling with Baby, will receive 10% off of fun footwear for thier little ones for spring with coupon code TWB315 valid March 1-15, 2010.  For more news on Umi, and additional savings, became a fan on Facebook.

YOUR TURN: What are the top features you consider when shopping for shoes for children?

*Two pairs of shoes were provided for the purpose of this review. Read the full disclosure policy.

Best of 2009

Here’s my post and product review faves from 2009.  Enjoy the re-cap!

Favorite Posts:

  1. Going Back to Work After Staying Home with Baby
  2. Date Night Re-Cap
  3. Caring for Cloth Diapers
  4. Camping
  5. Country Capers
  6. Children in Church
  7. Real Food on a Budget
  8. Getting Back in Shape
  9. Make Your Own Baby Leggings for Less than $2

Favorite Product Reviews for Women:

  1. Best Practical Accessory – Gardening Gloves by Ethel
  2. Best Hair, Skin Care & Body Care – Bubble & Bee Organic
  3. Best Mineral Make-Up – Alima Pure
  4. Best Jeans – Stella by Chip & Pepper
  5. Best Meals – Dream Dinners
  6. Best Footwear – Tony Lama Stars Boots
  7. Best Sunglasses – Native Eyewear
  8. Best Trail Running Shoes – Mountain Masochist GTX by Montrail
  9. Best Apparel – Lacie Tunic Top (for her) and Axiom Jeans (for him) by prAna
  10. Best Tech Gadget – PC Back-Up System Replica by Seagate

Favorite Product Reviews for Children:

  1. Best Toddler Sandals – Newport H2 by Keen
  2. Best Snack – Brothers All Natural Fruit Crisps
  3. Best Children’s Travel Bag – Kushies My Bag
  4. Best Summer Apparel – UV Skinz
  5. Best Sneakers for Toddlers – Flex by Pediped
  6. Best Hydration System – Stainless Insulated Water Bottle by Camelbak
  7. Best Toddler Play Apparel – Jasper Hearts Wren
  8. Best Travel Toy – Zoobie Pets
  9. Best Safety Item – Safety 1st / Air Protect infant to toddler convertible car seat
  10. Best Sentimental Gift – Little Baker Suitcase by Child to Cherish

Favorite Tuesday Travels:

  1. Visiting the Local Fire Station
  2. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
  3. Painless Travel Tips
  4. Visiting the Local Airport
  5. 5 Tips for Road Trip Solace with Toddlers

Favorite Health Happy Round-Ups:

  1. Natural Defense Against Allergies
  2. Vaccine Awareness
  3. Safe Fun in the Sun
  4. Prevent Picky Eating
  5. 7 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep for Children
  6. Skin Care for Moms and Babies
  7. Breastfeeding Benefits
  8. Extended Breastfeeding

Favorite Recipes:

  1. Healthy Yogurt Fruit Dip
  2. Raw Food Dessert
  3. Banana Pancakes, and Ratatouille Recipes
  4. Chicky Chicky Hummus
  5. Buckwheat and Acorn Squash Pancakes
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Tuesday Travels: Surviving a Road Trip with a Two-Year-Old

Welcome to Tuesday Travels, a weekly series at Traveling with Baby.  This weekly series will also features ideas for local day trips and  travel tips for families with kids-in-tow.  You’ll also find related product reviews and giveaways.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family in New York AND Pennsylvania.  We spent over 8 hours on the road Tuesday evening and again on Sunday evening.

Traveling with a two-year-old for a long period of time definitely poses some challenges.  I kept him content with an endless supply of snacks: bananas, cheese, dried fruit, and Happy Baby organic puffs.  When I ran out of snacks, we pulled over for more substantial chow.

Between providing food and performing puppet shows over my shoulder with stuffed animals, I don’t know who was more worn out, me or my son.

Once we arrived, we had a blast hanging out with family.  Thanksgiving day was quite busy for Calvin and his cousins.  He and his cousin J looked for cool rocks and “acorn hats” in the yard.

We also went on a mini-hike to the top of the mountain in my parents’ backyard.  That’s Calvin’s uncle Greg on the left, cousin J, and his Daddy Steve on the right.

While on the mountain, Steve found walking sticks for the boys to use.  He showed them how to “draw” on the rocks with the ashy tips of sticks from a recent brush fire.

After the hike, the boys refueled with snacks, and then we built a cardboard “gingerbread house” with caulk, peanut butter, crackers, popcorn kernals, and pine nuts.  It wasn’t exactly multi-colored, but it was inexpensive, quick, and easy. I forgot to pack our leftover candy from Calvin’s birthday party that I’d planned to use precisely for this purpose.

Here’s the finished product. What do you think?

There was plenty of feasting on Thanksgiving and every other day, too.  Our daily routine didn’t stray much from eating, watching the boys play and kiss  baby cousin, followed by napping, more eating, and sleep.  Repeat.

It was the most amazing vacation ever!

Cousin J and Calvin kissing Baby A on her sweet baby cheeks

My folks did 99% of the cooking and preparation.  I helped by making a salad, and eating a fair share of pumpkin pie and cornbread dressing.

It was simply wonderful sharing my favorite holiday with family in my parents’ home.  The last time we celebrated Thanksgiving together as a family was two years ago…when Calvin was only one-month-old.

Happy holidays from my family to yours!

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Tuesday Travels: Traveling with Puppy

tuesday travelWelcome to Tuesday Travels, a weekly series at Traveling with Baby.  This season, my son and I are excited about sharing some local day trips and field trip ideas for families with little ones.  This weekly series will also feature travel tips for families with kids-in-tow and related product reviews and giveaways.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.

20090923_0013I love my dog. His name is jack, and he is a two year-old Maltese. However, he has not historically been the best traveling companion. This isn’t because he’s poorly behaved, but because of all of the things I have had to learn the hard way. He wasn’t good at long distances (he would get sick in the crate when we crated him for a drive, and sick on the seat when we didn’t), and the list of stuff I had to bring along was exhaustive.

That said, he’s a friendly guy and I hate to leave him at home, so this past weekend when I went to visit my grandparents he came along. I’ve learned a lot (as I mentioned, the hard way) over the course of time so here’s a list of the things learned:

  • Always pack water. You’ll need it for drinking, washing, and who knows what else!
  •  Put things in smaller bags. Use one for snacks/treats, and portion out the amount of food you’ll need in snack or sandwich bags.
  • Buy a collapsible bowl. Use it for food and water, as a toy, it has so many uses!
  • Don’t forget the toys. They may seem to take up necessary cargo space unnecessarily, but you will be sorry if you leave them behind. I now pack special toys that only come out to play when we’ve arrived at our destination. This helps ensure a well behaved puppy who’s more focused on his long lost toy than chewing something he shouldn’t.
  • Have a designated bag. When the “puppy pack” comes out of the closet Jack knows he’s going somewhere and it has most of his staples already in there and ready to go.

Elisa Bricker

Tuesday Travels: Get Hydrated

traveWelcome to Tuesday Travels, a weekly series at Traveling with Baby.  This season, my son and I are excited about sharing some local day trips and field trip ideas for families with little ones.  This weekly series will also feature travel tips for families with kids-in-tow and related product reviews and giveaways.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.

Drink Water

So, how much water do you really need?  The very general formula that I share with my patients is this:

Take your weight in pounds and divide it in half.  That’s the amount of fluid ounces you should drink in water throughout the day.

For example, a 100 pound person should drink 50 fluid ounces of water per day.  Since there are 8 fluid ounces in 1 cup, that means a 100-pound person should drink about 6 1/4 cups of water per day.  That’s equivalent to about 2 of the .75 Liter (or 24 oz.) capacity Camelbak Better Bottles per day.

However, a pregnant or breastfeeding mom, someone living at high altitudes, in extreme climates, someone who exercises several times a week…these are all factors for how much water you should drink.

So, check out the Hydration Calculator on About.com.  Nine quick questions will tell you how much water you should drink.  But, the answer will probably run pretty close to half of your body weight in fluid ounces.

Take a sip of water every 15 minutes throughout the day, and you’ll easily get there.  It’s that simple!

Nay for BPA

The information available about BPA in plastics is so in-your-face that you’ve probably heard about it.  In fact, you don’t have to turn to mom blogs and PBS to hear about it, the BPA news has gone mainstream.  There was an article about the dangers of BPA in plastics in Time magazine, and more recently, the Washington Post.

Instead of worrying about whether or not a product is BPA-free, I’d prefer to stick to companies that have a long track record of producing safe, BPA-free, pthalate-free containers for food or beverage consumption.  Camelbak is one of those companies that maintains a high level of integrity and quality in their products–those are traits that make sense to me as a doctor mom.

camelbak-corporate-logoLast fall, I reviewed Camelbak’s Better Bottle.  For the record, I still take that purple bottle with me EVERYWHERE.  It has endured numerous road trips, bounces on tile, and a toddler who’s perfecting his spiral pass.  I love it.

New and Improved

This year, Camelbak released new products that are appropriate for small children and they beefed up their bottle line for big kids and adults: stainless and insulated stainless.  No more slightly strange water taste if it’s been sitting in there for, oh–say camelbak-stainless-steel-bottlea couple days in the car under the blazing sun.  Also, cool water stays quite cool with the insulated stainless bottle.

So, if you drop it on your bare toes, you might feel a little regret.  But, if you’re not clumsy with your water bottle, then you’ll probably love it more than any water bottle you’ve ever had.  EVER.  Not only is it uber-practical, but you can get one for everyone in the family and not get them mixed up since there’s really run and rad designs available.  Try to pick just one–not easy!

The Camelbak 0.5 Liter Insulated Stainless Steel Better Bottle is available for $26 – $30 on Amazon.

For the Kids

Camelbak 12 oz. Kids Bottles

For the little ones, you get spill-proof design with the incredible bite valve that comes apart for easy cleaning and re-assembly.  But, you don’t have to worry about choking hazards since the parts are kid-friendly.  Did I mention that the style options are super cute, too?

Camelbak sent us the kids’ stainless in butterflies, and the kids’ plastic Fire Pirate bottle.  It holds 12 ounces of water (0.4L), and for a boost in vitamin C, I’ll throw in a wedge of lemon.

Instead of snagging MY Better Bottle, my son is totally content to have his own.  I’m content to have a cleaner, and spill-proof drinking solution that travels well in the car.

IMG_7636Camelbak Stainless Better Bottle I love the safe and hazard-free Big Bite Valve on the kids bottle.  The bite valve is slightly different on the 0.5 liter insulated stainless.  All parts are easy to disassemble and clean by hand or dishwasher.

Get your BPA-Free Camelbak 0.4 liter Kids Bottle for $12-$14, or the 0.4 liter Kids Stainless Steel Bottle for $18.50 – $23 on Amazon.  If you live in Virginia, you can also find them at your local Blue Ridge Mountain Sports.

bottles n bagsThe next time I’m on a trip to a museum or park with my son, I think I might want to stowe my Camelbak bottles in this cool Bottles ‘n Bags Stroller Organizer by J.L. Childress–among other baby gear designed for travel, you can find it at BabySafeTravel.com.

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Slight interruption in regular programming

My laptop is currently Killed in Action (KIA)–that action was the moment I fired it up so that I could back up my data.  Thanks again to the wonderful mess of Windows and automatic updates.

Uhm. Well, didn’t get to back up the data.  We’re doing our best to follow the recommendations from customer service to get the hard drive to connect for one brief moment–just so I can back up those precious photos of my little guy, those brochures I’d created for the office, and so much more.  At the moment, they’re irretrievable.

Usually, I’m pretty good about doing weekly back-ups.  But, I’ve been under the gun to get things done for this blog and my practice.  Working until 1 AM most nights…and working 9 to 10 hour days at the practice.  I haven’t run a back-up for 2 months.  I was barely able to get the dishes washed and the laundry washed (if not necessarily folded).

Yes, I’ve most certainly learned my lesson…in the most painful way.

Back up once a week, or more frequently.  I did that initially, but somehow, it totally escaped my mind, and here we are with a less than reliable platform and a corrupted hard drive that won’t even allow us to get to the appropriate screen where we might possibly run some sort of back-up.

Yes, I only recently learned that this is happening globally with Windows updates.  Wish I’d learned that fact, oh say, 3 days ago.

There are files I can re-create, but the photos from the past two months are gone.  Poof!

I think that’s what aches the most.

Strangely though, I’m especially calm about this whole ordeal.

Yes, I had press releases ready to go that I must now re-create the perfect wording from scratch.  Ouch.  Yes, I have an article due to a major magazine in 3 days, and I’m behind on several writing projects because of my computer meltdown.

Yet somehow, I haven’t flipped out about it.

My family is safe and healthy.  I have probably months of work ahead of me to re-create files.  Yet, I know it’s going to be okay.

Technology really is a blessing and a curse.  Today, it’s more like a curse.

So, please excuse me if I don’t post a Tuesday Travels post today.  I hope to have that column up and running again next week.

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Tomy Lama Stars Collection Boots – Review

health happy round-upWelcome to a weekly series on Traveling with Baby, Health Happy Round-Up which focuses on multiple aspects of wholesome living and optimal health for the entire family.  Each weekend, Traveling with Baby will share some insightful news, recipes, and tips to help you consider fresh new perspectives on wholesome and happy health.

“The [wo]man with the boots doesn’t mind where she places her foot.”  –Irish Proverb

Tony Lama boots on Dr. Dolly TwBSome of my fondest memories of childhood are wrapped around the times when I donned my favorite pair of cowboy boots.

When I was two, you wouldn’t find me wearing anything other than my red leather cowboy boots.

A few years later, I would sport gray and black leather boots that were perfect for galloping on horseback in the rocky hillsides near the Snake River and Waha foothills in eastern Washington.

A decade later, as a college student in Austin, Texas, I fell in love with my black leather boots paired with my favorite black felt hat that made  frequent appearances line dancing and two-stepping to Charlie Daniels and George Strait.

There’s something utterly American and earthy about cowboy boots.

Yet, many times, they can be unbearably uncomfortable with constant plodding on the pavement–they were designed for riding, after all.

Thankfully, I’ve enjoyed discovering the new Stars Collection by Tony Lama thanks to the pair they sent me for review.  After running around the clinic on my feet all day (quite literally), at the end of the day, my feet felt like they had been pampered with a foot massage.  The comfort pad in the rubber heel and orthotic insert provide therapeutic arch support.

TL bootsTony Lama’s Tan Cheyenne are depicted above.

What’s even more impressive about these oil-repelling, leather boots is the stylish detailing of faux fur applique, orange and turquoise embroidery, and sparkly blue rhinestones.

These are NOT the drab and dreary cowboy boots of yesteryear.  Rather, these are 1980’s punk-inspired fashionista boots that make you feel at home on the range or downtown.  Whether you’re rassling a steer or a strong-headed toddler, your happy feet will want to kiss you at the end of the day for treating them with oodles of kindness and luxury.

Straight from the American Chiropractic Association in an article about footwear and fashion:

  • Choose comfortable shoes. If you must wear high heels, bring a pair of flat shoes along with you to change into should you become uncomfortable. If you walk to work, wear flat shoes and change into your more fashionable shoes when you arrive to alleviate any pain or discomfort.
  • If the shoe is uncomfortable while standing, chances are it will not be any more comfortable while walking. The wrong shoe can affect the body’s center of gravity.
  • Choose supportive shoes. Designer spikes or non-supportive loafers may look nice but do not allow for easy, symmetrical walking.

When fashion, comfort, and ergonomics can blend together in shoes or clothing, then pure bliss can be achieved.  Tony Lama Boots Tan Cheyenne has the market cornered on bliss.  You can purchase the Stars Collection online, or find a retailer near you.

Note: New leather boots may take a little getting used to, especially if you’re used to snug-fitting shoes.  Read Justin Brand’s fit guide to help you determine the right size for you.


tonylama logoOne winners will win a gift certificate to use toward any pair of Tony Lama boots from their Stars collection (retail value $140).

Where will you wear your boots?  Visit all the fun styles of Tony Lama Stars boots, and tell me your favorite–and where you’d like to wear them!


Leave a separate comment for each additional entry.

  • Earn two additional entries by blogging about the giveaway and linking to Traveling with Baby using “Tony Lama Boots Giveaway” as the title in your post.  Then, leave two comments here with a link to your post.
  • Earn two additional entries by subscribing to Traveling with Baby’s RSS feed.  Leave (two) comments stating that you’re subscribed.
  • Earn another entry by 1) following me (drdolly) on Twitter and 2) tweeting this contest with the following RT @drdolly Win Tony Lama Boots on Traveling with Baby! http://wp.me/p4s6M-OJLeave a comment with the weblink to your tweet.
  • Earn another entry by adding Traveling with Baby’s button to your website/blog.

Leave a valid e-mail address, so I can contact you to claim your prize, or it’ll go to another amazing person.  The contest is open to U.S. shipping addresses only.

This contest runs until 11:59PM (EST) on October 2nd, 2009.

A winner will be randomly selected (via random.org) and announced on this post and e-mailed sometime shortly after October 2nd. If a winner doesn’t respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be selected.

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Congratulations to #1, Vicky!